CDC and Disability and Health

Photo: Boy in wheelchair with girl

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been involved in disability and health activities since 1988. CDC’s mission is to promote the health and full participation in society by people with disabilities across the lifespan.

Monitoring the Health of People With and Without Disabilities

CDC monitors the health of people with and without disabilities to identify how health issues affect people in different ways and why some people are at higher risk for certain diseases and conditions. Studies have shown that people with disabilities are more likely to have poorer overall health, less access to adequate health care, and increased risk for preventable health problems. These data are important to help identify barriers to achieving good health, and to design prevention and health promotion programs aimed at reducing health disparities and improving the health of people with disabilities.

Promoting Public Health

CDC supports work that improves overall health and quality of life for people with disabilities. It supports the inclusion of people with disabilities in public health programs that prevent disease and promote healthy behaviors and safety, while working to eliminate barriers to health care and improve access to routine preventive services.

Healthy People

Healthy People is the United States’ national plan for health promotion and disease prevention. The plan contains various national health objectives designed to identify the most significant preventable threats to health and goals to reduce these threats. Objectives for people with disabilities are included in the last three versions of Healthy People, Healthy People 2010 Disability and Secondary Conditions [962 KB, 12 pages], Healthy People 2020 Disability and Health and Healthy People 2030 to promote the health of people with disabilities, prevent secondary conditions, and eliminate disparities between people with and without disabilities among the U.S. population. Objectives and data for people with disabilities can be found throughout all three versions at DATA2010, DATA2020, and 2030 Objectives and Data.

Educating Families, Professionals, and the Public

Woman with crutches

CDC educates families, professionals, and the public by supporting training programs and conferences to exchange information and facilitate dialogue across a variety of health professions. For those interested in the field of disabilities, CDC offers trainings to health professionals, disseminates information, and promotes educational materials to various audiences, as well as responds to public inquires.

Promoting Policy

CDC promotes the development and implementation of policies that integrate disability information into broad public health programs.

Supporting Intervention Strategies

People with disabilities are at risk for developing secondary conditions such as pain, fatigue, obesity, and depression. These additional physical or mental health conditions can occur as a result of having a primary disabling condition. CDC aims to reduce the amount and severity of secondary conditions by working with a variety of partners to carry out intervention strategies and disseminate information and resources specifically to people living with disabilities.

Conducting Research

CDC has supported research into the development of specific interventions to lessen the effect of disability. These activities identify risk factors related to the health of people with disabilities. National and state health survey data on health status, quality of life, functioning, and disability issues are used to inform the development and evaluation of evidence-based health promotion interventions, such as those that address the transition of youth from school age to adulthood.

Contact Information

Mailing Address:
Division of Human Development and Disability
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd., MS-E88
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636)
Fax: 404-498-3060

If you have questions about disability and health, please contact CDC-INFO.